Belgium needs to target a vaccination rate of 85% to 90% against the Coronavirus, Flemish vaccine specialists Corinne Vandermeulen and Pierre Van Damme said on Sunday.
Speaking on the VRT-Television’s weekly programme, De Zevende Dag, the two experts described Belgium’s current vaccination target as “outmoded.”
The authorities have set 70% as the vaccination rate required to attain herd immunity and allow for a gradual resumption of activities interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the vaccine specialists say that goal needs to be updated.
“We ought to aim preferably for 90%,” said Professor Corinne Vandermeulen, director of the Vaccine Centre at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven).
“Initially, there were models which showed that 70% was enough, but now we have the British and Indian variants” of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, “both of which are very contagious,” Professor Vandermeulen said. “That also means we need to adjust these models once again.”
The virologist recalled that, in the past, 90% had always been the threshold set for vaccinations. “For measles, it’s even 95%,” she stressed.
Antwerp University epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme agreed. “With the more contagious variants, the reproduction rate of the virus increases and, automatically, the desired vaccination coverage goes up,” he explained. “You then approach 85% to 90%, and the vaccines are no longer 100% effective.”
The two scientists also stressed that the authorities need to keep encouraging the population to go for vaccination rather than making the vaccines compulsory.